Harvey Weinstein was convicted on Monday for sexual assault and rape, but was acquitted of the most serious predatory sexual assault charges, a partial victory for the #MeToo movement that sparked a series of allegations against the disgraced Hollywood tycoon.
The jury of seven men and five women found the producer guilty of first-degree criminal sexual acts and third-degree rape, a measure of justification for the dozens of women who spoke out against the almighty filmmaker.
However, the 67-year-old Oscar winner who produced films like “Shakespeare in Love” was not found guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault charges that could have imprisoned him for life.
The Time’s Up foundation, formed after the Weinstein affair, hailed the verdict as marking “a new era of justice”.
“Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them must be notified: there is no going back,” he said in a statement.
#MeToo’s limited victory features high-level sexual abuse conviction in the United States since Bill Cosby was found guilty in 2018 for drugging and also sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.
The decision was announced in a crowded New York court, where about 100 people gathered. The defendant, who attended the trial on a walker, was protected from sight by police officers.
More than 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct since allegations against him prompted the global #MeToo reckoning against men who abuse positions of power in October 2017.
But the jury considered charges related to just two: ex-actress Jessica Mann and ex-production assistant Mimi Haleyi, with many claims too old to be prosecuted.
One of the predatory sexual assault charges also included testimony from The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, who said that Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.
Six women have spoken out since the deposition opened on January 22, to say that they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Weinstein’s team subjected women to fierce interrogation as they argued that their relationships were consensual and transactional.
The prosecution classified Weinstein as a conniving predator who demanded sex in exchange for access to a cinematic universe in which he was king, but did not present forensic evidence or witness accounts.
The state’s case was based on asking the jury to believe the women.
Next stop, LA
Weinstein, who always said his sexual relations were consensual, was accused of raping ex-actress Mann at the DoubleTree hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2013.
He was also accused of forcing oral sex with former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in her New York apartment in July 2006, while she was menstruating.
Mann and Young testified that Weinstein’s genitals appeared deformed during graphic testimonies and at times uncomfortable as the prosecution showed jurors nude photos of Weinstein to corroborate their accounts.
The accusations of predatory sexual assault, a serious sexual crime committed against more than one person, were the most serious and carried a life sentence.
For the jury to convict Weinstein of this, they would have to believe Mann or Haleyi more in Sciorra.
Sciorra’s claim was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime, but it was included in the indictment to reinforce the predatory sexual assault charge.
Former model Lauren Young also told the court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013, when she was an aspiring 22-year-old actress.
Judge Burke dismissed the jury shortly after noon on Monday, thanking them for their “care” and “attention”.
The eyes now turn to Los Angeles, where Young’s allegations are part of a separate investigation into sexual crimes against Weinstein by prosecutors in California.
Los Angeles prosecutors accuse him of raping an Italian model in February 2013 and assaulting Young the following night.